A record 14.2% of those honoured in the New Year Honours list were from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) backgroundsLouis Ashworth

Four researchers from the University of Cambridge are among those recognised in the Queen’s 2021 New Year Honours.

Professor Simon Baron-Cohen, Professor Usha Goswami, Dr Michael Weekes, and Professor Valerie Gibson are the Cambridge scientists receiving awards.

The honours are presented on behalf of the Queen, and acknowledge “the achievements and service of extraordinary people across the United Kingdom.”

Professor Simon Baron-Cohen, who directs the University’s Autism Research Centre, was knighted for contributions to autism research.

“This honour came as a complete surprise, and I accept it on behalf of the talented team of scientists at the Autism Research Centre in Cambridge, and on behalf of the Autism Research Trust, the charity that has supported us,” he said in a University press release.

Baron-Cohen is a world-leading expert on autism, having developed several influential theories of the condition and published over 600 papers in scientific journals. He has also contributed to research in synaesthesia and cognitive sex differences.

Baron-Cohen’s work is not limited to research, and he also campaigns for the “basic needs and human rights of autistic people.”

Professor Usha Goswami is also a cognitive neuroscientist, and Director of the Centre for Neuroscience in Education. She received a CBE for services to education research.

Goswami’s work includes showing that dyslexia is a language disorder, rather than a visual one. She has “been interested in children’s development since training as a primary school teacher” and is “deeply honoured” to be recognised.

Dr Michael Weekes, a researcher at the Cambridge Institute for Therapeutic Immunology and Infectious Disease (CITIID), was awarded a British Empire Medal for his role in setting up COVID-19 testing at Cambridge University Hospitals.

Weekes acknowledged the contributions of his colleagues at the University and is “deeply honoured to have had the chance to be part of the team.”

In the physical sciences, Professor Valerie Gibson received an OBE. Gibson is a professor of high energy physics who chairs the Collaboration Board of the LHCb particle physics experiment at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC).

Gibson is an advocate for gender equality in science and the University’s Gender Equality Champion.

She explained: “It is an honour to be recognised for all three of my passions: research into the most fundamental particles and forces of nature, including the mystery of why we live in a Universe made of matter and not antimatter; support for gender equality and diversity in science; and the public engagement activities I have undertaken over many years.”

1,239 people from across the UK were named in the New Year Honours list. A record 14.2% of recipients are from Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic (BAME) backgrounds.

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